Tuesday, December 29, 2015

On the fourth day of christmas - my 12 days of running

On the fourth day of Christmas I completed my fourth run in 4 days, and having gotten this far I thought I would share why. Just before Christmas I cooked up this plan to re-ignite my running after the post marathon challenge lull (which was utterly intentional, after two marathons in 4 weeks my body wanted the rest - or was it my brain? - either way I took a running sabbatical). The plan I came up with was a simple one, after Christmas day excesses were over I would run the twelve days of Christmas running once a day for the 12 days through to January 6th.

You can read about the actual twelve days at Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve_Days_of_Christmas

So I am now four days in and it hasn't been so bad. There has yet to be a sticky day or difficult run and I have run over 5km each time. At the moment I certainly feel my homemade scheme might just get the start of my 2016 running year off with a bit of a boost.

Monday, December 28, 2015

BMW Berlin marathon 2015 - my race review - part 2 the race

Finally belatedly getting round to the second part of my Berlin marathon race review....

Sleeping the night before a race is always an interesting challenge, and all I could manage in Berlin was a fitful broken night of trying to get comfortable while switching off my brain. We had stayed up to watch the Wales vs. England pool match in the IRB rugby world cup, which while being a great distraction was not exactly restful. I was on social media most of the time too, soaking up those sleep impeding wavelengths of light.

By the morning I was absolutely ready to get on with things wanting to turn my back on the lost sleep   and meet the day. Breakfast was great, the food in the hotel was excellent, as is my way I indulged in coffee for race day. Still caffeine is limited to green tea before midday most days, so yes I was cheating a bit 'using' the caffeine to focus my mind and quash some of the effort feedback during the run. I'm not entirely sure it isn't a placebo thing, and really more of a pre-race habit like getting a hair cut, washing favourite kit, eating the same food, and so on.

We met up with my school buddy and headed into the middle of the city, to the start area. Underground and over ground trains ran like clockwork, and we were soon looking at the thronging masses of the Berlin marathon field. After taking the obligatory photos I left Mrs.H. to her day of stalking me on the Berlin marathon tracker app and coffee shop tourism. Going into the start area I was on my own and feeling the buzz of the event grow and grow. There were banging house tracks and aerobics demos to warm us up, and booming PA system announcements to keep us focused. The start pen was a fun friendly place, and I set about my pre-race kit check loops - a mild form of running OCD I think.
Fresh as daisies before the start - fabulous to catch up with an old school friend :-D
First 10k
The main (elite) field left us behind with a fanfare, and one by one the sections of the field pulled up to the start line. Crossing the line was emotional for me, being back again, being fit enough to run, and being so charged with positive human spirit. The first 10k was to be all about clock watching and trying not to overdo my pace, despite not really knowing what my pace should be. I found a rhythm well and went generally with the flow. There were pacers just ahead with 4:30 balloons and I calculated I would try to catch them by the end of the first 10k and ease away from them in the second.

Second 10k
Atmosphere! I love a run with a happy atmosphere!... apologies for butchering Russ Abbott song lyrics, but the Berlin course really does have some great support, music, and vantage points. I was enjoying myself by the time the distance began to get 'real'. I was looking for Mrs.H. at all the points she had said she might see me, was happy with my gel strategy, had gotten used to water in plastic cups again, and was pleased that I had caught and eased around the noisy pace group.

At this stage I was a little unsure of my pace, but felt it was not too excessive. The lack of a full training base meant I didn't have enough points of reference. It was becoming an adventure in what would be possible.

Third 10k
The steadiness of pace was pleasing but it was getting harder and harder to maintain. I found my breathing was a bit hard for that point in the race I knew from experience and by now I was busy convincing myself that it was okay, that all would be fine. Passing halfway was a boon and all signs seemed to be I could squeak a 4:25 out of the race.

During this phase I was double stalked though - my wife found me and we had a good wave at each other - my other stalker turned out to be the pace group. It was increasingly obvious that they were back, the distance between us was dwindling and the signs pointed to me slowing.

Fourth 10k
All I can really sum it up was is 'ouch!'... the wheels as they say "fell off". First the pace group caught and slid past me, and then I became increasingly aware that the slowdown was biting. To be fair to myself I held out until 34 km before everything really got hard. On reflection going through halfway in 2:10 was simply too hot. I fought myself and had to pull all motivation out of myself between 35 km and 40 km, pushing and pushing as best I could.

Final 2 km
My fade was only halted by finish line fever, and the elation of finishing a second Berlin after what was a flawed training / preparation period before. Heading towards the Brandenburg gate I got so giddy I was waving my bandana around above my head like a flag. After patting the gate on my way underneath the madness returned and I started waving my arm about again. Seeing the finish line I worked out I might get in under 4:45 and managed a final surge to do it.
Apparently I'm in there somewhere over the far side
My race by the number thanks to the Berlin marathon race tracker app
The post race analysis
In the end even with the horrible and painful fade I was chuffed to bits to have completed, to have enjoyed it, and to have had so much support and good will from family and friends. The time was not earth shattering but I was very pleased. The walk back to the hotel was interesting as my legs were in pieces, so much so I had to start the staircase shuffle straight away (not the next day like usual). Shower facilities were kindly extended to runners by our hotel and happily (though awkwardly) I had time to take up on it. The end of the trip was a pair of flights home which went smoothly - if a little painfully.
Super pleased and proud of my race being :-D

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Waiting on a watch and a few satellites

Waiting for my watch to find the satellites again, its been a recurring theme of my runs over the last little while! Once it has successfully finished its navel gazing then I'll be off for my second run in two days - hardly a running streak but a step in the right direction after weeks of little to no running at all. I will be also taking a first run in a pair of Newton running shoes I bought back in the summer at of all places a swimming lake. Trying out new shoes usually only ends one way but I remain desperate to get out of my super heavy and clumpy Beast shoes... I am wondering just how much of a post I'm going to get written before the satellites, stars, planets, cloud formations, passing passenger jets, and international space station align and I get GPS tracking lock so I can go run.

My wife just asked me why I don't go for a run without it and that would make for a long answer-although perhaps I might have time to knock out a short essay on why I personally prefer to run with GPS! Either that or build an entire spring training schedule from scratch!

While I've mentioned it 'Spring' training will be all about half marathoning and perhaps a crack at a PB - how many other runners are plotting the same type of master plan around now I wonder? How many also are waiting for their watches? Could be a strong correlation perhaps?

Upped the ante now.... two watches duelling to be the one that comes with me- my wife has offered hers up... and in a flash it has lock and I'm off now with her watch.... wonder if her model will be discounted in the ne year sales? :-S

Footnote - the run went very well (even with an unfamiliar watch), the new shoes felt great though how my legs react in the next few days will be the real test of them. As for my watch it is definitely on borrowed time (pun intended!!).